Netanyahu Sworn in as Israel’s Prime Minister, Predecessor Yair Lapid Refuses Handshake


Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in on Thursday for the sixth time as Israel’s prime minister, while his predecessor Yair Lapid flouted the traditional handshake that occurs at the change of power and exited the Knesset plenum early.

In his address to the Knesset on Thursday, Netanyahu outlined three priorities for his government, which is Israel’s most conservative to date.

The first was to “thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.” The second priority would be to develop the country’s infrastructure, with an emphasis on connecting the peripheral areas to the center of the country with a highspeed train,  and the third was to “expand the circle of peace” with Arab nations “in order to end the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

Netanyahu also blasted Lapid for eulogizing “the end of democracy.”

“Members of the opposition, losing the elections is not the end of democracy – it is the essence of democracy,” he said.

“A democratic regime is tested first of all by the willingness of the losing side to accept the majority’s decision,” Netanyahu went on.

Netanyahu Sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister, Predecessor Yair Lapid Refuses Handshake

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid bows his head as he attends a special session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to approve and swear in a new government, in Jerusalem Thursday Dec. 29, 2022.  (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

The prime minister was frequently interrupted by catcalls during his speech. Outside, hundreds of left-wing protesters carrying Israeli flags and some carrying LGBTQ rainbow flags were shouting slogans through megaphones.

Netanyahu has come under fire for forming a government with the anti-gay Noam party.

Still, Amir Ohana, an MK from Netanyahu’s own Likud party, was sworn in as Israel’s first ever openly gay Speaker of the Knesset on Thursday.

“In a democracy, you don’t climb the Capitol fences and you don’t climb the Knesset fences,” Netanyahu said in his speech.

Netanyahu Sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister, Predecessor Yair Lapid Refuses Handshake

Member of Knesset Aryeh Deri attends a special session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to approve and swear in a new government, in Jerusalem Thursday Dec. 29, 2022.  (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

“This is the sixth time that I present a government under my leadership,” Netanyahu said. “I’m as overwhelmed as the first time. I want to take this opportunity to thank my dear and beloved family, my wife Sara who is here today and is always by my side, my sons Yair and Avner, who always stand by me.”

After Netanyahu’s speech, Lapid tweeted: “With great unease we are handing the country over to the elected government. We pass onto you a state in excellent condition, with a strong economy, with improved security capabilities, with our international status at the highest it has ever been. Try not to destroy it, we’ll be right back.”

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